Enneagram 8 Leadership: Strengths, Weaknesses, & Tips

28 June 2024

Enneagram 8 leadership style is a blend of different types and is generally recognized by a strong sense of direction.

Eights, also known as Challengers, are typically perceived as natural leaders because of their willpower, domineering nature, and charisma, all of which have a captivating effect on others.

It’s also important to understand that Eights, while they seem very ambitious, are more about being in control of their destinies than about being leaders.

In this article, we’ll explore the Enneagram 8 leadership style, its most positive and most negative sides, and provide some tips for improvement.

Let’s begin!

Enneagram Type 8 Leadership: General Overview

A woman working on a laptop

The Enneagram 8 leadership style most closely matches the description of the charismatic leadership style.

However, although it might seem a bit counterintuitive, it also bears many traits of both authoritarian and transformational leadership.

Practically, this means that people recognize Challengers as leaders due to their assertiveness, drive, self-confidence, and personal charisma. Plus, Eights indeed have plenty of leadership skills and are great at handling high-stress situations.

Courageous and strong, Eights never back down from a challenge, which is an important hallmark of a natural leader. They are focused on making the most rational and effective decisions at all times.

Moreover, people instinctively trust Eights because their self-confidence makes them feel safe. Plus, their strong sense of autonomy, coupled with their passionate and energetic approach, has an uplifting effect on others.

Of course, though talented, Eights are not ideal leaders. Their boldness, confrontational attitude, and direct communication style may seem brash or even rude to more sensitive personality types. As a result, Type 8 leaders often have the reputation that they are too demanding and judgmental.

When it comes to interacting with superiors, Eights will never be submissive, though they respect hierarchy. They will not hesitate to confront anyone’s attitude if it goes against their beliefs and values, regardless of their status and position.

In terms of their relationships with subordinates, Eights expect competence, proactivity, and dependability from them. When interacting with them, Challengers value initiative and boldness. Moreover, they usually have no patience or empathy for team members who require a confidence boost or emotional support.

The Concept of Enneagram Wings

It is important to note that not all Eights are equally confrontational or insensitive. According to the theory, there are two Enneagram 8 subtypes that can have traits of their neighboring types—Seven or Nine—depending on their Enneagram wing.

Eight with a Seven wing (8w7) will be less controlling and a more creative type of leader, whereas Eight with a Nine wing (8w9) will be more compassionate and emotionally engaged.

5 Enneagram type 8 Leadership Strengths

A group of people working - enneagram 8 leadership

Enneagram 8 leadership strengths generally stem from their deep determination to be in control of their own destinies.

Here are the most prominent Enneagram 8 leadership advantages:

#1. Determination

Eight's willpower can move mountains. That’s because Challengers have a very high level of self-awareness and are the most self-confident Enneagram type. The combination of their willpower and self-assurance produces relentless determination. Eights know what they are capable of, and they stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

As a result of their strong determination, Eights tend to make pragmatic, rational decisions and move forward without necessary delays.

#2. Strategic Thinking

Eights are big-picture thinkers who enjoy and are great at creating long-term strategies. They have a very clear sense of purpose and vision for the future, which helps them motivate and inspire their team to follow them.

While they may lack the patience to deal with the necessary details, they have no trouble delegating such tasks to their team members.

#3. Resilience

The exceptional resilience of Eights is the result of multiple factors. Their courage, combined with strong determination and self-awareness, makes them one of the most stress-resistant Enneagram types.

Therefore, it is no wonder that Eights are capable of quickly rebounding after setbacks and dealing with crises efficiently and calmly. Another benefit of their resilience is that it helps them adapt to changes more easily.

Not to mention that their resilience often has an inspiring effect on their team members, propelling them not to shy away from risks but to show courage.

#4. Protection

Eights are highly accountable and always willing to advocate fiercely for their team in all circumstances. Their instinct to protect their team is very strong, regardless of whether they personally agree or disagree with their specific attitudes.

Loyalty and a sense of community are high on the Challenger’s list of priorities, and they don’t need any other reason to stand up for their team members.

As a result, Eights create an atmosphere of trust and support where their team members feel safe knowing their leader has their back and are, therefore, willing to put in extra hours.

#5. Empowerment

Though they are probably the most controlling of all Enneagram types, Eights are great at empowering their team members to take the initiative and ownership of their work.

That’s because they are aware that the more autonomy they provide for their team members, the more they can expect them to contribute with innovative ideas and a proactive approach to problem-solving.

4 Potential Challenges and Weaknesses of Enneagram Type 8 as a Leader

Potential challenges and weaknesses of Enneagram 8 leadership generally stem from their lack of trust in other people and their hyper-independence. Here are the most notable weak points of their leadership style:

#1. Obsession with Control

Eights are known for their trust issues, which cause them to behave in an overly controlling manner, especially when they are stressed. As a result, they can be overbearing and overly dominant, stifling their team’s creativity and hindering open communication. The more they control their team, the less there’s room for fostering trust.

#2. Lack of Empathy

It is hard for Eights to understand people who are not as driven, strong, and determined as they are. Plus, Eights struggle with their own vulnerability and, therefore, can’t stand to see it from others either. As a result, they can be too judgmental of team members who may not be as efficient and devoted as they are.

This can lead to their team feeling abandoned and disconnected, afraid to share their views and express any initiative.

#3. Rigidity

Eights are prone to black-and-white thinking, which prevents them from understanding the context and complexity of their setting and situation. This rigidity may lead them to oversimplify solutions that create new problems instead of solving the old ones. They can also be dismissive of their team members’ perspectives for the same reason.

#4. Ignorance of Rules and Procedures

Though Eights like rules and procedures, they only do so when they are the ones creating them. Otherwise, they tend to see them as unnecessary obstacles and tend to avoid them or find hacks and holes in the system.

This can lead to conflicts with higher management and create challenges in a hierarchical structure. Sometimes, their ability to disobey a few rules is a good idea, but more often, it marks them as rebels and can create unnecessary problems.

How Can Enneagram 8 Improve Their Leadership Style: 4 Effective Tips

2 business women talking

Enneagram 8 can improve their leadership style by employing strategies that mitigate their core weaknesses. Here are some of the most efficient approaches for improving Enneagram 8 leadership style:

  • Foster emotional intelligence. Eights tend to separate their emotions from their work and expect their team members to do the same. However, instead of boosting productivity, this approach harms their connection with their team. It is essential for them to learn to integrate their sensitive side with their ambition and to practice leading with more empathy.
  • Embrace collaboration. Instead of motivating their team members to compete against each other to boost productivity, Eights should focus on creating an atmosphere of support and collaboration. This will also build loyalty and devotion to work and teamwork.
  • Understand the purpose of hierarchy. Eights struggle with accepting anyone’s authority and, therefore, are intolerant of hierarchy and rules. They usually only show formal, superficial respect for them. So, they need to understand that the purpose of the organizational structure isn’t to limit their power but to protect the organization and boost productivity.
  • Practice patience. Eights need to acknowledge that everyone works at their own pace and try to understand the differences that exist among their team members. Within the context of putting their strategies into action, the Challenger must recognize the importance of patience and adaptability.

How Others Perceive and Interact With Enneagram Type 8 Leader

A woman holding a speech - enneagram 8 leadership

Others perceive and interact with the Enneagram Type 8 leader in a very respectful and disciplined manner. Eights are usually perceived as strong, decisive, and reliable leaders who provide clear direction and guidance to their team members. Moreover, they are also seen as protective and loyal, as they are always willing to stand up for their team.

Eights’ direct communication style and honesty are also highly valued, as their employees know what is expected of them and what they need to do to earn Challengers' respect. Furthermore, other people admire Eights for their courage and resilience in challenging situations.

However, Eights’ fearlessness, boldness in communication, and domineering attitude can also be perceived as brash, insensitive, and even rude.

When it comes to interacting with Enneagram Type Eight leaders, it is essential to be self-confident, straightforward, transparent, and practical. Eights hate beating around the bush and may interpret your hesitancy and insecurity as insincerity, which is something they don’t forgive easily.

In general, showing competence and reliability is crucial to earning Eight’s respect. They value independent, responsible, and hardworking individuals.

Finally, never question an Eight’s authority. They need people who can show respect for their leadership while also asserting their attitudes.

Embrace Your Leadership Potential!

Take our Enneagram test and discover your type, learn to leverage your strengths, and improve every aspect of your life!

Key Takeaways

So, this was an analysis of Enneagram 8 leadership style in a nutshell. Let’s round off by highlighting what makes Enneagram Eights powerful as leaders:

  • Eights are responsible, hardworking, determined, and passionate leaders with strong vision and relentless drive.
  • Resilient and resourceful, Eights always find the most efficient strategies for success.
  • Eights’ passion, courage, and devotion inspire their team members to give their best and always strive for excellence.